I met up with Alexandra Robbins for a talk she was giving at the High School of the Future High School. I’m pretty sure that’s the name, even though, as I sat in the auditorium in wooden recoiling chairs, I very much felt like the little kid I once was in Elementary School of the past.
The principal made a joke about how the school has been around for twenty years, but the building has been around for a hundred. Alexandra was looking particularly glamorous on that Cinco de Mayo evening.
“I know, right? I did the Today Show!”
“Wait. What? When?”
She gave me a look.
“When was the Today show”?
I did mention it was Cinco de Mayo, right? Official only day of the year on which Stephane drinks tequila?
Alexandra had been invited to talk about her new book “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth,” that I’ve been going on about nonstop because, well, if it’s true, I’m going to be getting *Earth*!
As if she could read my mind, Alexandra began her speech with my own personal geek story.
Stephane was an outsider in high school. She was made fun of for her clothes and said she never fit in.
Who are you telling, sister!
“Ten years later Stephanie is on the cover of Forbes and Time magazine…”
What? When?! Why was I not informed?!
Yeah, so…apparently there’s some other used-to-be-a-geek Stephane, who spells her name funny, out there stealing all my magazine covers. RUDE!
The rest of Alexandra’s talk was also not about me. She talked some about the book – there was a cute moment where she asked the mom of some kids in the audience if it was okay for her to use the word bitch. It was.
She cited a study about, I want to say caterpillars, which showed that caterpillars will follow the lead caterpillar around a room even though the tasty caterpillar food was only a few inches off the beaten caterpillar track. Those caterpillars died. The plight of blind sycophant caterpillars were mirrored in the tales of the popular kids, who cling to the code of popularity, lest they suffer the fate of the uncool geeks.
She talked about the frustration of one of her protaganists who complained that his own mother would chastise him for not being “normal” enough and she advised parents not to worry if their kid only had one or two friends. I almost called my mother to say “I told you so,” but to be fair, Alexandra did not opine on whether imaginary friends counted. I maintain that they should.
What I most like is that this topic seems to be giving everyone a chance to tell their own story, or that of their child. One mom at the talk, dissolved into tears talking about how her daughter’s two closest friends had shut the girl out of the group. My own twitter guru, @basseyworldlive tweeted a link to an article about Geekiness in Jezebel and wrote “I was such a geek in high school.” If you’ve ever seen Bassey Ikpi perform, you’ll quickly believe in what Alexandra calls “quirk theory,” the idea that the very thing that makes one a “geek” is what leads to excellence in adulthood.
It’s a theory that resonates. The Yahoo article about the book was on yahoo’s most emailed article list and has made its way all around “the facebook”, as my mother insists on calling it.
At the end of the High School of the Future lecture, Alexandra talked about her own high school experience on the fringe and ended with “I’m a dork, I married a dork and now I have a dork family.”
See kids, it all works out in the end.
Okay, now where is my Earth?